At the beginning of each day, I look for a motivational story for that little extra boost. Sometimes it’s a news story, a popular video or a personal anecdote from a friend of a family member. And each day as I reflect back on that story, I look forward to applying it to my work and retelling it with vigor.
Each morning, as we climb out of bed, shower, tie our shoes and snag breakfast from the toaster on the way to the car, we all hope that in some small way, we can make a difference in people’s lives, even if we don’t see it. Not only does this man pinch himself as he goes to work each morning, he and his team are changing the lives of thousands of kids and their families each year.
His name is Chris Bryant and he’s the Senior Vice President of Enterprise Applications and Technology at Operation Smile, an international nonprofit organization that provides free surgeries for children and young adults in developing countries who are born with cleft lip, cleft palate or other facial deformities. Impossible is not in this man’s vocabulary. I will break that cardinal rule by attempting – in vain of course – to recount and recall what this man does.
Operation Smile was founded in 1982 by a couple, Dr. William Magee, Jr. and his wife Kathy, so saturated with ambition, it would take the power of a thousand rhinos to bring them down. Their goal? To heal as many children suffering from cleft conditions they can possibly reach. As easy as it is for us to love our kids even if they’re not perfect, society often turns a cheek on those who are born with these issues.
That’s what motivated Dr. Magee and Kathy to take action. Each year, for many destinations, they mobilize volunteer medical teams and travel into very rural and remote corners of the Earth and perform these surgeries at no cost to their patients. Families travel across rugged terrain and through difficult weather conditions just to have their children assessed to determine if they are healthy enough for surgery. These families sacrifice time at work, their financial savings and material possessions just to give their child a chance.
That’s where Chris comes in. Video conferencing is a powerful tool. As a personal advocate, and someone who works for Polycom, I’ve seen firsthand how powerful this technology is. Chris and his team are now preparing to use Polycom video to provide assessments and evaluations to children no matter where they may be.
I had mentioned it was important in storytelling to be moved by your customers, allowing you to tell rich, impactful stories. What Chris and his team do is on another level. These children not only are assessed and operated on, they get their lives back. They are no longer shunned by society, but embraced.
Chris told me a story that left my heart full and a pretty nice lump in my throat. With the hundreds who vie for these surgeries, not all are selected and some must wait for another medical mission to return to their location. Chris offered this story:
“In 1982, Dr. Magee and Kathy were on what would become their inaugural medical mission to the Philippines. And at the end of this mission, after conducting surgeries from early in the morning until the end of each day, the Magees were preparing to leave when a woman approached them with a basket full of ripe bananas. Earlier in the day, the woman was told that her daughter was unable to receive surgery because medical supplies had been exhausted. She stood before the Magees with her daughter, tears streaming down her face, and insisted they receive the bananas as a gift just for trying to help her child. They were floored, wondering how this woman could thank them even though they weren’t able to help her daughter. The Magees knew they had to return to help this child and the many others they were unable to provide surgery for on this trip. In that moment, Operation Smile was born.”
That’s the power of this organization and why I’m so proud and moved to have Polycom play a small role in the success of Operation Smile.
At Microsoft Ignite 2016 in Atlanta this week, we filmed a live Periscope discussion with Chris and my colleague, Amy Barzdukas. During the session, a gentleman named “Joel” asked a question related to remote technology use. After Chris answered the question, Joel thanked Chris and then confessed that he grew up in Honduras and he was someone who had been impacted by Operation Smile. Please watch this video and remember, whatever your company sells, there’s a story waiting to be told.